San Antonio entrepreneur launches business with Jugo cafes

0

David Padilla has deep roots as an entrepreneur. His grandfather was one of the first businessmen to operate a movie theater in Honduras.

“I grew up in this environment of entrepreneurship, of business bustle,” he said.

Padilla, who grew up in San Antonio, tapped into that hustle while still a student at St. Mary’s University when he founded a company that rented out venues to hold concerts and throw parties to make profits. He then dedicated 15 years of his career to the nightlife industry – opening Zen Bar Ultralounge across from the Majestic Theater – before deciding “That’s not what I want to keep doing”, a- he declared.

Today, he runs two local retail businesses focused on health and wellness: Jugo, a chain of juice stores selling smoothies, acai bowls and cleansers, and Archie’s Coffee Lounge, a coffee shop in the northwest side which also offers wine, cocktails and hemp-based products such as CBD. Many hemp products are made by another of his companies, Structure Health & Wellness.

The companies operate under his private equity fund, D Cap, which includes many of his family members as investors, he said.

Padilla has ambitious plans for Jugo and Archie. In the coming years, he hopes to open between 40 and 50 locations of each brand across Texas. Then it will consider further expansion by franchising or licensing the brands. He gained experience with the franchise helping expand the Burger Fi chain across Texas, requiring him to travel statewide.

Sophia Meyers adds honey to a Sweet Bowl and a Tropical Bowl at Jugo.

Jessica Phelps

“I took a quick lesson in franchising because we had to open 12 to 15 Burger Fis in two years,” he said. “It really prepared me for this chapter of my life, which is to scale concepts that I think are scalable.”

Jugo had two stores in San Antonio when Padilla took over in 2019. He then “reinvented and rebranded the whole thing,” he said. Today, it includes five stores in San Antonio and two in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, with two more under construction there.

He entered the hemp industry in 2018 with investments in a CBD manufacturing company. He opened Archie’s in January on the northwest side. The shop looks like a chic and relaxing cafe. The idea, he said, is to educate coffee drinkers about hemp products.

“People are curious and they associate CBD with marijuana. How can we change this? ” he said. “With my background in food and drink, I was like, ‘Okay, let’s do some coffee. Let the customer come for a coffee experience, then we capture their attention with CBD products and are able to educate them. ‘”

Padilla recently sat down for an interview to discuss his entrepreneurial background, the Texas hemp industry, and his advice to those new to retail development. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Jugo is a juice bar that offers superfood bowls, detox drinks and smoothies

Jugo is a juice bar that offers superfood bowls, detox drinks and smoothies

Jessica Phelps

Q: Tell me how you got into the business world while you were still in college.

A: I’ve always had this inspiration to start a business, to have ideas. In college, I created a production and promotion company. We worked with Sunset Station at the time. Gigs produced – we would rent the area which I think is a nightclub now. We rented it and threw parties. I did it in several rooms. Sports events, concerts.

Q: How does a student do this?

A: I was motivated by my education, the entrepreneurial environment. I saw that the college students wanted to go have fun, party. I saw a business opportunity and realized it. You know, I’ve always been a lover of conceptualizing ideas.

The Tropical Bowl and the Sweet Bowl are two of the bowls offered at Jugo, a juice bar that offers bowls of superfoods, detox drinks and smoothies.

The Tropical Bowl and the Sweet Bowl are two of the bowls offered at Jugo, a juice bar that offers bowls of superfoods, detox drinks and smoothies.

Jessica Phelps

Q: How do you juggle so many businesses?

A: I have an incredible team. It is absolutely impossible for me to be here right now without the friends and family who have invested in me and trusted me. I have a team of about six people who do everything they can, feel the same way I do about the company, treat them like they own the company. We have created a culture, I think, that attracts young people. We are very small, so we are able to influence the culture and continue to learn and grow.

Q: At Archie, do you sell THC products like delta-8?

A: Yeah. It’s a hot topic in Texas. We sell all of these products. Our manufacturing company is called Structure. We make all the oils, we make all the lotions and all the balms. Anything FDA approved, we make it. A lot of edibles, like delta-8, all those things that are really popular, come from Colorado. Some Oregon stuff.

Jugo is a juice bar that offers superfood bowls, detox drinks and smoothies

Jugo is a juice bar that offers superfood bowls, detox drinks and smoothies

Jessica Phelps

Q: I am surprised that THC products are sold in Texas. Are you afraid that the legislator forbids it?

A: I am in tune with what is looming on the horizon of the Legislature. I have a large law firm that keeps me up to date. I think the makers and producers of these products follow (the law): if it’s derived from hemp in Texas, then it’s legal. So delta-8, delta-10, they figured out a way to extract the cannabinoids, if you will, and make these products from hemp. Once you really dig into it, hemp and cannabis are very similar. If I put them in front of you, you wouldn’t know which is which. The main difference is the THC and cannabis content is higher, and the CBD and hemp content is higher. Now breeding is so technical – there’s so much technology that you can go wherever you want. I think whatever happens, there will be a demand for these products. What I hope as a business owner is that if there are laws and regulations, it’s very clear. May it allow good players, people who respect the rules, to continue to be successful.

Q: You mentioned how CBD exploded in popularity around 2018. Do you think the industry has settled in now?

A: I do. I have the impression that the market saturated immediately. It was like a gold rush. Everyone says, “This is the new marijuana.” And it really wasn’t that. The demand for CBD has definitely, I think, gone down. A lot of the bigger players have taken over, just based on how much money they have, how much support, how much marketing, how much international distribution they get. I knew I couldn’t compete with that, so I really had to focus on San Antonio. And then beyond that, Texas is my ultimate goal, how do I get the brand recognition I’m looking for without having to worry about competing with big companies outside of Texas trying to get licenses here?

David Padilla is a local entrepreneur and restaurateur who now owns five locations of his health and wellness brand, Jugo, after developing the concept in San Antonio.

David Padilla is a local entrepreneur and restaurateur who now owns five locations of his health and wellness brand, Jugo, after developing the concept in San Antonio.

Jessica Phelps

Q: It seems acai was another thing you didn’t see much 10 years ago.

A: Maybe five years ago is when I was first introduced. I call it a healthier alternative to what’s out there. It won’t be the healthiest thing, but it’s definitely a healthier alternative, obviously, with fruits and superfoods. Dairy-free, vegan. It’s just a safe food to have as a snack. Now, in San Antonio, they were educating on acai. People don’t really know what acai is – is it ice cream, is it sherbet? The fun fact is that we have a 70% retention rate. So if you come to Jugo, 70% of the time it will be a repeat customer. This is what we see in the data. I am a big person.

Q: Could you tell us how you use the data?

A: I need to know what’s going on in stores. I have a CFO who prepares (profit and loss statements) for me. This allows me to make moves across the entire brand. It allows me to see what works, what doesn’t work in a place, to choose where my next location will be. Based on the information I can get from our POS system. The information we get from the marketing we do – we collect a lot of data in that regard. Thanks to e-commerce, where do people order the most? Are we targeting this territory more with our online marketing?

It is important to evolve. I will need data if and when I decide to license or franchise these concepts because I will likely need to raise funds, possibly go into private equity, possibly partner with someone one who has done this on a larger scale. And obviously, they’re going to need all the information.

Viva La Berry and Kale'd It smoothies are two of the smoothies offered at Jugo, a juice bar that offers superfood bowls, detox drinks and smoothies.

Viva La Berry and Kale’d It smoothies are two of the smoothies offered at Jugo, a juice bar that offers superfood bowls, detox drinks and smoothies.

Jessica Phelps

Q: So you are exploring the franchise right now?

A: There is a difference between franchise and license. I’m exploring which route I’m going to take, but my main goal for the next three to five years is to get to about 40 to 50 stores in Texas and then go down that route for franchising, licensing. I think I need a bit more history before I even explore this because I’ve seen this happen so many times where people decide on a franchise or a license and then this n just wasn’t ready for it.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do, create retail concepts?

A: I would say to make sure they are ready for a lot of hard work. Sleepless nights. Make sure they have a plan, a financial plan, that encompasses more than just opening the store, that has a track to increase sales. I would say to keep it simple. The more complicated you make it, the more details you will need to be aware of, and the more you will need to train your staff.

I would say location is extremely important, so know your audience. It’s a dynamic industry, so you have to be solution-oriented, because things change. We never know. COVID appeared – who knew it was coming? And how do you adapt to that?

One of the biggest things I haven’t done, but would tell my younger self, is find a mentor. Find someone who has done it and bond with them and really learn and soak it all up.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.